American Express, eBay and IBM were rated the top-three most trusted companies for privacy in 2008, at a time when identity theft is top-of-mind and consumers are more concerned than ever about losing control of their personal information, according to annual rankings from Ponemon Institute and TRUSTe.
Despite the current financial climate, Amex retained the top spot in the fifth-annual Most Trusted Companies for Privacy list. eBay IBM, Johnson & Johnson, Nationwide and Charles Schwab all managed to retain their top 10 rankings as well.
While the financial services sector slipped amid industry-wide woes, the technology sector showed marked improvement as eBay, Apple, Yahoo, Microsoft, and HP all bettered previous rankings. Yahoo, Facebook, Apple, Verizon and FedEx all made into the top 20 for the first time.
“That we see many of the same names ranked among the top 20 companies year after year, strongly suggests that consumer perceptions are not superficial, but are in fact the result of diligent and successful execution of thoughtful privacy strategies,” said Dr. Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder, Ponemon Institute. “Consumers want to do business with brands they believe they can trust, and we believe our study is a strong indication of which brands have best earned that trust.”
Google, which rounded out 2007’s top 10, did not even crack the top 20 this year.
Gap Widening between Importance, Trust
In addition to the ratings, the survey also finds that there is a significant gap developing between the importance privacy holds with consumers and the sense of control they feel they have over their personal information, specifically:
- The importance of privacy continues to rise: Nearly three-fourths (73%) of consumers said the protection of their personal privacy is “important” or “very important,” up from 69% in 2006.
- Consumers feel they are losing control of personal information: Only 45% feel they have control over their personal information, down from 56% percent in 2006.
- Identity theft is top-of-mind: Some 62% of consumers believe that identity theft most saliently affects their perceptions about a company’s privacy, while 53% named data breach notification and 42% cited annoying background chatter in a public venue. Only 18% of consumers cited social networking abuse as a factor.
About the research: The study asked 6,486 adult-aged US consumers which companies they thought were most trustworthy and which did the best job safeguarding personal information. A total of 706 companies were named by consumers, and 211 made the final list of most trusted companies